Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dropcloth euroshams

I was inspired a few weeks ago by this post in one of my favorite blogs, about using dropcloths as curtain liners. I've been wanting to sew eurosham covers for these big square pillows we use as a sort of headboard on our bed for a long time. It's part of the reason I got a sewing machine in the first place. But fabric is EXPENSIVE (or rather, I always end up picking the most expensive things. But upholstery fabric is pricey.)

So anyway, using dropcloths (the linen-y texture and oatmealish color of which I love) was a perfect solution. A perfect $10 solution.

A little help from Allie (Todd's coworker/my sewing buddy) and I was on my way. The first one took a long time to measure out, and I predictably got confused with the math and need to enlist a little velcro to help the backs stay shut. But on the whole, I am so happy with how they look, and feel TOTALLY accomplished for coming up with an idea, plotting it out and making it happen!
It's official: sewing is fun!

My pillows were 26" x 26" and I measured 28" for the big square and should have done about 15" x 28" and 14" x 28" for the backs. (Or even a little more. The backs fluff out in the middle, not that anyone sees. That's where I need a bit of velcro.)

There was only a small mess left in the kitchen after:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burn, baby, burn!

Excited to report that we FINALLY got a grill. Early last summer, our grill tried to blow up our house and kill Todd, so we stopped using it. Then we moved. And still grill-less, we ate no grilled food all winter. Then we decided it was time to find something new. Most of the grills in the $100 range are best described as "rickety" but luckily, Costco came to the rescue.

This little baby is almost normal-sized (plenty of room for two people, anyway) and also perfectly deck-sized. I'm debating whether to build a little table for it to sit on. In the meantime, we had grilled chicken the other night for dinner, and it was great. And I highly recommend the grill (so far).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Odds and ends

I am sooo excited for the new camera I picked up on Saturday--bday present from my parents. Technology has changed a little, since we bought a little Nikon point-and-shoot four and a half years ago (I think it's four mp and 3x zoom). The new toy is 14 mp and has a 7x optical zoom. It can see things I can't, which is amazing. Kind of like taking pictures with a microscope.

Anyway. My parents also picked up this mini hummingbird feeder while they were in Florida a while ago (they've been going so frequently I can't keep track of when it was--mark of Midwesterners with an eye toward retirement). I love hummingbirds and don't really have a good place to put a feeder on my dinky balcony, but this little guy is perfectly apartment sized. Note the suction cup, which will be stuck to my sliding glass door come summer. LOVE.
Speaking of summer and studio has been killing me that I'm not going to have a big garden this summer. We've nearly polished off the stockpile of frozen pesto I made last August, and it just totally bums me out that I might not be able to grow my own (basil) this year.

The earliest of the early-spring plants are showing up at stores (hyacinth, pansies, daffodils) and I have a pot of pansies on the deck that the still-chilly temps haven't wiped out yet. But it's not the same as having a yard. (Then again, I suppose I should be glad I still have a house, even if I'm not living in it. And I am.) this blog, In Praise of Leftovers. I found it while in search for a tomatillo salsa recipe on the weekend, and I'm a new fan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Faking my spring garden

Begonias are one of my favorite flowers. Not so much the ones that come in six-packs at the nursery, but tuberous ones, with big fat flowers. Like this one, which I picked up at Trader Joe's last weekend. LOOK at that red. It's incredible.

I needed to clear out those forced bulbs, that had been in the process of croaking on the windowsill, and TJ's is a perennial favorite for finding new plants.

Begonias are pretty easy to care for and propagate easily. They like part sun, regular water, and some humidity. If humidity isn't possible, mist the leaves.

Though that's a closed pot, the plant is in a separate pot inside and there are some packing peanuts at the bottom to facilitate drainage. (Nobody likes wet feet.)

So now my little windowsill garden looks like this:
I repotted the geranium that had been sitting in a jar of water for a few months (that's the two bare-looking sticks on the right sill) and it has some very teeny leaves sprouting. Here's hoping she recovers; I love those hot pink blooms.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Favorites: weekend breakfast

Saturday mornings are almost always eggs, coffee and reading (when we're in town, which is two or three times a month). Todd makes fantastic scrambled eggs and breakfast burritos and we LOVE to doctor them up with salsa, Tillamook Colby Jack, mushrooms and chili garlic sauce.

If you're not familiar, it's like magic in a bottle. I use it in soups, on tacos, mix it into salsa, on eggs...I guess that's mostly it, but it's really good.

In other weekend breakfast news, you should check out the world's best pancake recipe. It doesn't get better than that. Seriously.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Roast results

So that hunk of beef that I wrote about last was awesome. Maybe a little long in the crock pot (I'd shoot for 7 hours on low next time rather than 8) and a hair salty (added a cup of beef broth before cooking to make sure it didn't dry out), but it was really great.

We had that with bread and salad Saturday, and then ate the leftover beef in tacos Sunday. It was excellent both times. Todd pointed out that we are getting pretty darn good at making tacos: we have a good method for chicken, and I would totally do the beef again this way.

A few observations:
  • dilute the beef broth. Maybe 1/2 or 3/4 tsp of stuff to 1 cup of water. It was pretty salty.
  • use red wine instead of soy sauce for a different direction.
  • onions and shallots caramelized....yum.
I'm still thinking about those tacos. Wow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's official, I love my sewing machine!

So, I got my sewing machine out for the first time since...the first time...and decided to work on taking in a military-style anorak i got last year, so it'd be ready to use for springtime. (Spring, please don't come too soon; I'm still enjoying the snow, boots, boot socks...gosh, I love winter.)

I pinned the jacket, threaded and "installed" a new bobbin, threaded the machine and sewed two simple lines on each side. SUCCESS! Then I cut off the extra, and the raw edge started to unravel. So I got out the manual and read about the overcasting stitch, which allows you to finish edges. Perfect. It called for presser foot G, so I read about how to change out the foot (easy!), did that, and overcasted that edge!

I then felt like this:
Except instead of sailing, I SEWED! AHOY! The end.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sausage mushroom soup

Todd and I have an arrangement about the food in our house. I do the grocery shopping and most of the cooking. He does a lot of the cleanup, and also contributes ideas to the weekly menu (I get totally bored and need inspiration, which he's quite good at).

So last week, he cracked open a cookbook he'd gotten me years ago as a gift (and from which one of our favorite dishes comes from; I'll share it in the summer) to come up with something for dinner.

The cookbook, by the way, is Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook. Having been raised in the Midwest, I still think, rather uncreatively, of spaghetti with marinara sauce topped with Kraft parmesan cheese as the quintessential Italian meal, and this cookbook pushes me far beyond that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eye of round roast, take 2. And work!

I made an ill-fated attempt at cooking a roast last fall. I'm not altogether sure why, given the fact that I all but get nauseous thinking about that roast, but I've decided to take another crack at it.

So I chopped up some onions and shallots and minced a whole lot of garlic and dumped that in a plastic freezer bag, along with the 2 1/4-pound roast.

Who ever went wrong with red meat, onions, garlic and shallots? Hopefully, I won't be the first.

Drawing from the marinade recipes I leafed through, I threw in some soy sauce, cracked black pepper and a hefty dose of kosher salt for good measure.

When it's ready to go in the crock pot (which is the one cooking method I'm always successful with) tomorrow, I'm going to bore a hole in the middle, and--get ready for it--stuff it with BACON.

I contend that there is nobody in the history of the universe who has ever made something that involves beef, bacon, garlic, shallots and onions taste bad. Especially when slow cooked, maybe in some red wine or something. IT'S JUST NOT POSSIBLE. (I hope.)
Above: does not look edible, but will hopefully be spectacular. I'll let you know how it goes.

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